Fifth Sunday in Lent (April 2, 2017)
Romans 8:6-11 | New Living Translation (NLT)
So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
Last week we looked at living as children of the Light. This week we are reminded that those of us who are living as the children of the Light should not be controlled by our sinful nature – aka, the carnal nature. Paul even goes as far to say that we should not be dominated by our sinful nature. – i.e. sin should have no dominion over us. If we are controlled by the Holy Spirit – if we are living as the children of Light then we must live controlled by the Holy Spirit or we should think about the things that please the Holy Spirit. What Paul is saying is that a Spirit-led believer should look so much different than a carnal-led believer. Even that sounds weird – I mean how disobedient do we need to be to be cut off and thrown into the fire. So many times we want to see how close to the edge of sin that we can live, but we really need to be seeing how close to the Spirit we can live.
What is the penalty for letting our sinful nature rule over us? Death is the penalty, but (and here is the good news) letting the Holy Spirit control our lives leads to life and peace. The sinful nature is hostile toward God. We saw that in the Garden of Eden and we see that even now. The sinful nature – no matter how hard it tries – can be anything but hostile to God. The sinful nature cannot obey God’s laws. That’s the whole point of the Old Testament and the laws. It is only by and through the Holy Spirit that we can follow God. Otherwise, you can never please God.
If you have the Spirit of God living in you, Paul states, you are controlled by the Holy Spirit – and he goes on to say that if we do not have the Spirit of Christ living in us, we do not belong to Him.
So what does that mean to us? Although our bodies may die physically, the Spirit gives us life – eternal life through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Because of that sacrifice we have been made right with God. We have looked at that over the last couple of weeks. This Spirit of God – who is the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead, lives in us. Think about that. If we have the Spirit of Christ living in us, we have the same power that raised Christ from the dead. I am more than sure that the power that raised Christ from the dead can keep us from living lives displeasing to God – that same power can help us live lives of power – full, abundant lives – that same power can help us live lives of service….this same power that raised Christ from the dead, we are told, will also give life to our mortal bodies – through the power of the Spirit living in us.
I encourage you to ask God to fill you with his Spirit so that you can live a life controlled by the Spirit of God.